YOLO is not true (here’s the true story)

 

In 2015, my girlfriends and I visited the island paradise of El Nido in Palawan, Philippines. We were truly captivated by the beauty of the place that we took maybe a thousand photos of us in various angles, in several spots be it on the sand, in the ocean or basking under the glorious sunshine.

One of my friends who so love and adore the ocean would always shout before diving – “YOLO!” And off she goes, splash and she’s swallowed by the clear, gentle waves.

YOLO is an acronym that has become a famous mantra among the new generation. The mantra stands for – you only live once. It is supposed to be an encouragement to push you to do the scary, the bold and the beautiful. While I agree that life on earth is short and so we should be doing the things we think we ought to do, I don’t buy the idea that we only live once. As Christians and as believers, we live twice – one on earth and another one in eternity with God.

The original plan was really YOLO – you only live once in eternity with God and the angels. This plan includes complete bliss with singing and dancing in paradise and never having to experience pain and work. However, something happened along the way.

 

The Fall

In their desire to be like God, our first parents Adam and Eve allowed themselves to be deceived by the serpent. Eve took the forbidden fruit after seeing that it was good to eat, pleasant to the eyes and ideal for gaining knowledge (Genesis 3:6).  She gave some of it to her husband who also ate it. God was displeased and cast them out of Eden.

Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin and so death spread to all men (Romans 5:12). Man sinned and fell from the grace of God. What made the fall worse is that the things they were desiring were already given to them as we were created in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27).

The sin of Adam and Eve brought spiritual death to all of humanity and separated us from God. In this state, we can really say YOLO because people shall indeed live only once. Because when we physically die while being spiritually dead, death becomes permanent. As in dead, gone, forgotten, no coming back, no reconciliation.

But I’m sure we all know the greatest plot twist in history – for God so loved the world…

 

The First Christmas

In order to cover for the debt of sin, God sent Jesus Christ unto our midst to save us and allow us to reunite with God. Jesus gave Himself [as a sacrifice to atone] for our sins [to save and sanctify us] so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, in accordance with the will and purpose and plan of our God and Father (Galations 1:4).

Jesus, in all His glory came through the backdoor of humanity – in a manger in some dirty and smelly den of farm animals in Bethlehem, to save us. He came to pay the wages of our sins and return to us the gift of God – eternal life.

 

(https://www.catholiccompany.com)

 

Imagine the horror of our stories if Jesus never came – the lives taken away by wars, extra judicial killings, injustice, greed, will all just come into waste.

I find myself at times worrying about these things. When will morality and values return to our government leaders? When is humanity going to stop killing, hurting and discriminating? What about the many lives lost because of someone’s lack of patience, values or charity?

But because Jesus came, we are assured that:

  1. God’s grace will continue to pour upon us. This undeserved, unmerited favor will continue to speak through our hearts and push us to do good, no matter how sinful we become.
  2. There is an eternal life after all this.

 

In the midst of the holiday rush, parties here and there, and buying of gifts everywhere, may we all remember and feel that this story of salvation and Jesus are the reason for the season.

We are throwing parties, we are giving gifts because we received first the gift of life through Jesus.

We are giving love and making it more felt this season because God loved us first.

Merry Christmas! 🌟

xo,

Neri

 

Beneath and above my failures

I keep shoving these words at the back of my mind. Too early for a year-in-review post, I told myself. But sleep eluded me as if telling me to get these words off my chest. And so here I am, scribbling in the middle of the night.

This week, I received a sad news. After complying with heaps of requirements and an interview, I was not considered to a scholarship abroad that I applied for two months ago. I took the news over the phone with composure and maybe a half-expectant-to-the-result tone.

My friend asked me, ‘how do you feel?’ I said I felt sad and thought my efforts were all wasted (though alam kong wala namang sayang). It was for that endeavor that I visited my university a couple of times to get official records, spent a fortune to take the IELTS exam, and spent more fortune for the medical tests. Also, the process was exhausting physically and mentally because I had to go back and forth to the recommending agency to make sure I got all the requirements correctly including the number-of-word specific essays.

‘Wala namang sayang,’ my friend reiterated. [Nothing is ever wasted.]

That night I slept well. Or so I thought. In the wee hours just like as I am writing this, I was awaken by an urge to pee. After a quick trip to the toilet, I felt enveloped by a strange blanket of sadness and hurt. I started crying when it dawned on me that this year has been in fact a series of failures.

 

 A series of unfortunate events

This year has been a year where I failed to guard my heart and allowed some reckless fellow to enter. Although it taught me a lot of lesson, it was difficult to move out of the mud.

It was also this year (along with 2017 probably) that I failed to take good care of my body which resulted in several trips to the emergency room and eventually on the operating table. The memory of everything about being in the OR still makes me shiver.

2018 was the year our office choral failed to win or even land a place in a prestigious national competition. This was after devoting all my evenings in practice, skipping a lot of sessions from my Bible class (which was difficult because this was in my goals list this year) and shelling out my own money for the costume.

And just last week during my 10-day vacation overseas, I failed to be more loving and patient to a family member. I am so ashamed for lacking with charity when this person gave the best for me all these years.

In tears, I looked at the manila paper I posted on my wall that says ‘Who am I?’ Instead of reading the bulleted statements I’ve written below, I listened to a song that just answers the question.

 

Who He says I am

I fully know that my failures don’t define me, and neither do my successes.  Stripped off with my abilities, career, and even my sins, who I really am? Without my mistakes and achievements, what is left of me?

 

I was lost but He brought me in.

I was set free.

I was and still am a sinner, and yet He died for me.

I am a child of God.

 

This is what remains – being His child and His immeasurable love for me, no matter what the season and circumstance I am in. The same love He gives to you and everyone else. And with this love, we have already won a sweeping victory (Romans 8:37).